Drive-in concerts; the next play in the events industry?

Posted by Rafael Indyarta on May 26, 2020

As we continue to survive in the era of COVID-19, event professionals are constantly seeking solutions to keep up gatherings, while social distancing. For the time being, everything has been going to digital: live streams, virtual events, esports events, and virtual concerts. 

Virtual events have their place in the event space, and should be considered by any event planner. Concerts are a little different; being in person seeing your favourite artists is something else and can’t be replicated in the digital space. 

Recently, news has come out that certain event promoters have come up with an interesting solution to this. Taking a page from the 1950’s, drive-in events have made a comeback. 

Keith Urban was the first in America to test out this format, followed soon after by a cover band in New Hampshire

Ever since, new drive-in music events are constantly being announced. With this format, planners can easily follow government guidelines for social distancing, while the people get live music back. 

With the music industry and artists taking a huge blow from the pandemic, we wanted to analyze the drive-in format and how viable it is for event promoters. 

Is this just a pipe dream or will this be the new normal?

The Benefits.

If you do choose to plan a drive-in show, the rewards are likely to be bountiful. You will be hosting an event with very little competition. 

Think about the pre-COVID19 times (it’s nice right), and the weekly announcements of events going on. Food festivals, shows, street parties, and plays; all cancelled. Also, considering  that restaurants and malls are closed, and you have a primed audience that is hungry for a reason to leave the house. 

Not only are audiences primed, but venues are looking for a reason to open up again. Planners can take advantage of this opportunity and work together with venues to put on a great show. 

There are also venue workers, who have been out of work for weeks now, that are also eager to get back. Security, catering, av staff, and many others who’ve been sitting at home as their place of work remains empty. 

If the drive-in model proves to be viable, it can very well be the jump-start to an industry that has been stagnant since the pandemic.

The Challenges

As amazing as this sounds, there are significant challenges that come with planning a drive-in show. 

Of course, you’ll need a venue and it needs to accommodate cars. Luckily, festival grounds typically have to accommodate automobiles, and with those sitting empty, there are ample options for you in that department. Parking lots or other paved lots will also do the trick, but may be logistically more difficult, as they are not used to hosting festivals. 

You also have to consider organization. With a high volume of cars entering one area, the traffic infrastructure is sure to be tested. Remember how Woodstock caused one of the largest traffic jams in history. How can you best facilitate the flow of cars in and out of your venue, minimizing traffic on the community around it?

Another major challenge is pricing. Venues rely on bar and alcohol sales to make up a source of revenue. But, with everyone certain to “drive-in”, liquor sales are out of the picture. You'll also have to consider that a drive-in show will have a smaller capacity than your typical concert. Ticket prices will likely have to be more expensive than usual, which could deter attendees.


For promoters anxious to get events up and running again, drive-in shows are definitely an option. The challenges are significant, but considering the state of the live entertainment industry, any source of revenue will be useful in this time. 

It is best to check with local government officials to see if they will even allow such a gathering to take place. 

Difficult situations bring out the best and most creative sides in ourselves, and creative thinking, like a drive-in concert, is what will help us in the event industry prosper.